South Africa

EOH corruption sinks high-profile minister and former executive

Former Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture Zizi Kodwa and former EOH executive Jehan Mackay appeared in the Palm Ridge specialised commercial crime court on Wednesday.

Kodwa and Mackay were arrested on charges of corruption related to bribes for state contracts handed to EOH. They were released on R30,000 bail each.

Kodwa’s resigned as Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture, in line with the ruling party’s step-aside rule.

Mackay joined EOH’s senior management team after he and his father sold their company, TSS Managed Services, to the IT service provider in 2012.

He joined the EOH board in 2017. However, he resigned on 1 July 2018 following a vote against their reappointment. He later left EOH amidst corruption allegations.

On Wednesday, Kodwa and Mackay sat side-by-side in the Palm Ridge specialised commercial crime court, facing corruption charges.

The charges stemmed from information shared by Steven Powell, MD of ENSafrica’s forensics department, at the Zondo Commission in 2021.

Powell told the commission that Kodwa received R2 million in payments and luxury accommodation from EOH while bidding for government tenders.

Kodwa was linked to dubious payments from former Mackay, who served as EOH Mthombo executive director, related to government tenders.

Powell highlighted one of the bigger payments – a R1 million “loan” Kodwa received from Mackay, which he used to buy a Jeep. He never paid back the money.

Powell said Kodwa was also paid R45,000 by EOH a day before Mackay asked him to intervene in a Home Affairs tender from which EOH was disqualified.

It was a particularly lucrative tender, and Mackay’s communication with Kodwa following the deposit looked like a plea.

Not only did large payments into Kodwa’s accounts link him to potential corrupt deals, but EOH also paid for exclusive accommodation in Cape Town.

The accommodation was always ultra-luxurious and very expensive. All the apartments are in exclusive areas, like Fresnaye, Camps Bay, and Clifton.

Powell said Kodwa particularly liked The Pentagon Villa in Clifton and returned for a 3-day stay, which cost R150,000. He also requested the services of a private chef, which cost R11,700.

Kodwa admitted to receiving payments and luxury accommodation from EOH’s Mackay but denied it was linked to influencing tenders.

He also denied ever receiving requests from Mackay to influence how the state spent its money or that it involved ensuring tenders went to EOH.

Kodwa said he was not guilty of corruption. “I have never engaged in corruption or facilitated corruption in my relationship with Mackay or any other person,” he said.

The image below provides an overview of some of the payments made to Kodwa in 2015 and 2016.

In a statement prepared for the commission in 2021, Zodwa said he is not “guilty of any crime of corruption”.

“I want to state categorically that I have never engaged in corruption or facilitated corruption in my relationship with Mr Mackay or any other person,” he said.

He said when accepting the money from Mackay, he was not employed by the state, and therefore did not have any influence on how the state spent its money.

“Payments into my account from a friend carried no intent on my part to be corrupt,” Zodwa said.

“While I vehemently deny that such payments were quid pro quo for anything, I am not unaware that such payments carry with them a perception of abuse of our position of power.”

“These payments to me or the ANC were not corrupt or designed to influence any tender process or encourage any unlawful acts by our members who work within the state.”

He admitted that Mackay’s assistant offered to him, including accommodation and catering, may seem extravagant and excessive.

“It was the hospitality I was offered, and I accepted it,” Kodwa said.

Commenting on the R1 million loan from Mackay, he said there was no written agreement or discussion of interest.

Kodwa said it was understood that he would repay Mackay when his finances stabilized. No money has been paid back.

On Wednesday, Kodwa announced his immediate resignation as minister. “This comes as Kodwa challenges the charges against him, which he strongly denies,” the department said.

“Kodwa expresses his sincere appreciation to the President and the governing party for the opportunity to serve the nation.”